Warm weather. Sunny skies. Good food. Cool people. Appropriate amenities.
These are just a few of the things Santa Cruz happened to offer to those who came into town to experience the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase.
While the hometown Santa Cruz Warriors failed to punch their ticket into the Showcase Cup with an 100-77 loss to the Grand Rapids Drive on Saturday night, the city still came up in the clutch throughout the week, allowing the local community to win big.
Here are just a few ways the Warriors (and not to mention, the league as a whole) aimed to make this session an enjoyable experience for the locals.
The kids: Generally speaking, the D-League provides its fans with more access than arguably any other league in professional sports. Younger fans can grow up feeling as though such athletes have made an impact in (and are a part of) their lives, creating memories for years to come. The Showcase proved to be yet another opportunity to continue such a trend, as the Warriors introduced a "Math Warriors" program for local students.
"4,000 Santa Cruz students [had] the unique experience of seeing first-hand how math factors into professional sports, and continue to build on their connection with the Warriors and the community," Warriors President Jim Weyermann said in a press release heading into the week.
These same students packed the stands in Kaiser Permanente Arena during the early days of the Showcase, ensuring the athletes had passion fans cheering them on.
The community: For starters, the Warriors kicked off the minor league's annual event with a massive parade downtown the day before festivities officially began. Upwards towards 1,500 younger fans dribbled basketballs down the local Pacific Ave. A pep rally at the team's arena followed.
Furthering its outreach towards the neighboring Watsonville, NBA D-League Cares sponsored a panel centered around leadership and potential role models in the lives of local youths. The event focused particularly around the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative initially started by President Obama, which addresses "persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensuring that all young people can reach their full potential."
Former NBA player and current NBA Cares Ambassador Felipe Lopez acted as the ever exuberant emcee for the discussion, while D-Leaguers Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Orlando Sanchez of the Westchester Knicks and local favorite Daniel Nwaelele of the Warriors, spent time interacting and encouraging the local fans throughout.
Business booms: By embracing the annual event in full force, the city's local businesses thrived throughout the week. Nearby restaurants offered special discounts to those participating in (and/or spectating) the Showcase. A number of such businesses boasted posters and/or special ads to further invite customers in with unique offers and different deals that made cashing in a more worthwhile experience for all.